Thursday, April 18, 2024
38.2 C
City of Banjul
HomeBreaking NewsGAMBIA: CONFLICTED MCA REGULATORY OFFICER WAS ATLANTIC PHARMACEUTICAL'S SUPERVISORY PHARMACIST.

GAMBIA: CONFLICTED MCA REGULATORY OFFICER WAS ATLANTIC PHARMACEUTICAL’S SUPERVISORY PHARMACIST.

Donate to Freedom Radio Today

After months of sitting on the Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) Investigation Report, the Ministry of Health finally published the report which culminated in the firing of the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director on Friday 21st July 2023. However, they are not the only MCA Staff exposed in the report for serious conflict of interest.

The recent firings have followed calls for the sacking of the Minister of Health (MoH), Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh. One heavily conflicted person is MCA’s Regulatory Officer Mr Tijan Jallow who caused an uproar on 31st October 2022 when he suggested that some 70 children died from AKI caused by flooding. The AKI Investigation Report revealed that the MCA Regulatory Officer, Mr Jallow, is the Supervising Pharmacist for Atlantic Pharmacy and the proprietor of Lucky Pharmacy.

The AKI Investigation Report notes that Mr Jallow was recruited by Mr Sait Kebbeh to assist him in the supervision of Atlantic Pharmacy and Lucky Pharmacy. Mr Jallow tried to distance himself from the drugs when he noted: “that the four contaminated cough and cold syrups were already cleared for importation by Sait Kebbeh prior to him taking over”.

“Tijan confirmed that the aforementioned cough and cold syrups were not registered by the MCA, but rather listed while a clearance permit was granted for its distribution”. The report did not ascertain who progressed efforts to grant the tainted drugs a clearance permit and if Mr Jallow had a hand in it.

It’s clear now that Mr Jallow was safeguarding his business interest when he said: “95% of the kids that died are from flooded areas”. Soon after his statements began making the rounds, Indian media jumped on the opportunity to report that the 66 children did not die from Indian Medicines.

Mr Jallow also claimed that “a good number of kids died without taking medications,” but failed to provide the actual number of children who died without taking medications. Naturally, his bizarre statements raised eyebrows given that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had reported on 5th October 2022 that that substandard contaminated paediatric medicines in The Gambia contained “diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol” which “are toxic to humans when consumed and can prove fatal”.

Drugs linked to AKI deaths ©WHO Website

When contacted to comment on the report he referred this medium to the Pharmacy Council.

Contradicting WHO’s International Alert

The Gambia’s MCA does not currently have a lab to conduct tests leaving it with no option but to send samples to other countries for testing. After the Ministry of Health solicited support from the WHO, they concluded that four drugs manufactured by “Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited” had been the cause of the AKI Outbreak which killed at least 66 children by September 2022.

The notice highlighted that “the substandard products — are unsafe and their use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death”. These were the same four drugs imported by Atlantic Pharmaceuticals which have now been permanently banned by the Government.

While the whole country was mourning the death of over 66 children from AKI, Mr Jallow was shifting the blame from his company, Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, to the floods. One of the recommendations urged “the Government of The Gambia to permanently revoke the importation license issued to Atlantic Pharmacy Company Limited and their Directors”. Minister Samateh told reporters that “the license of Atlantic Pharmacy Company Limited has been permanently revoked”.

Health Minister, Dr Samateh also floated the “flooding deaths” to Parliamentarians when he was summoned to explain the outbreak at an Extraordinary Session in late October 2022. Dr Samateh told Parliamentarians that in 2022 “The Gambia experienced the highest amount of rainfall in over 15 years. There had been windstorms and floods in many parts of the country. There are numerous diseases that become common during the rainy season either because the vectors carrying such disease-causing microorganisms thrive and reproduce well in stagnant rainwater [because] such water serves as a conduit for the transmission of water-borne diseases”.

President Barrow Received AKI Report in April 2023

Other Conflicted MCA Staff

It’s not only Mr Jallow who was heavily conflicted, a good number of staff working for the MCA have been exposed for conflict of interest. The recently fired Deputy Executive Director, Madam Fatoumatta Jah Sowe, told Investigators that “conflict of interest — is a common practice found amongst medical practitioners”.

Our review of the AKI Investigation Report revealed that Madam Jah Sowe was the Executive Director of the MCA and also the Supervising Pharmacist for Malak Chemist and Value Pharmacy at the same time from 2016 to date.

Madam Jah Sowe was “first appointed in March 2015 prior to her retirement in May 2022 and has since been granted a series of 6-month contract renewals to continue serving as the Deputy Executive Director of MCA”.

According to the fired Deputy, the role of “a supervising pharmacist — is to provide technical support in the form of evaluating relevant forms, corresponding with suppliers abroad, and advising on the registration of medicines”. Speaking on time spent working with the two Pharmacies she Supervises Madam Jah Sowe says “she does not spend much time at the two pharmacies — due to her official appointment with the MCA. She conducts most of her work through phone calls and emails”.

Although Madam Jah Sowe did not work with Atlantic Pharmaceuticals the report recommends for her prosecution in line with the relevant laws. Minister Samateh revealed that “the report will also be forthwith transmitted to the Gambia Police Force for further action”.

MoH Launch AKI Report (c) Yusef Taylor

Contrast the firing of the MCA Executive Director and Deputy Director and the lack of action recommended on Mr Jallow who works for both Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and MCA. However, Mr Jallow’s colleague, Mr Sait Kebbeh who recruited him to Atlantic Pharmaceuticals has been recommended “to the Pharmacy Council for appropriate disciplinary action”. Minister Samateh revealed that his matter “will be immediately referred to the Pharmacy Council for appropriate disciplinary action”.

The two staff who orchestrated the listing of the tainted drugs for Atlantic Pharmaceuticals while claiming that the children died from floods have not been specifically pinpointed for any serious action besides the government’s recommendation to “explore the possibility of instituting further legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and Maiden Pharmaceuticals”.

Other conflicted MCA staff noted in the report are listed below;

  1. Mr Essa Marenah Director of Evaluation, Registration and Inspection at the MCA. He has been serving as the Supervisor for Stop Step Pharmacy from 2004 to date. No action has been recommended towards him.
  2. Mr Babanding Sabally has been the Director of National Pharmaceutical Services under the MoH from 2015 to date and also a Board Member of the MCA from 2016 to date. He also served as the supervising Pharmacist of Stop-Step Pharmacy from 2007 to date. No action has been recommended towards him.
  3. Mr Omar Gaye is the Registrar of the Pharmacy Council and also a Board Member of the MCA. In addition to this Mr Gaye also works as the Supervising Pharmacist of City Pharmacy and Value Pharmacy. No action has been recommended towards him.
  4. Madam Markieu Janneh Kaira, the MCA Executive Director, HAS NOT been identified for any conflict of interest by working for a Pharmacy as a Supervising Pharmacist, however, she allowed drugs to be listed under her watch which is not provided for in the MCA Regulations. She has been fired and recommended for prosecution by the AKI Investigation Report.

By Yusef Taylor

Latest articles

GAMBIA: ABDOULIE JAWO REACTS TO THE OVER D 40 MILLION GOVERNMENT BRIBERY SELECTIVE MEDIA PLATFORMS

Domination through the Military under Jammeh to Domination through the Treasury under Barrow* It is...

GAMBIA: 7 MEDIA HOUSES CONTRACTED ABOUT D40 MILLION TO PROMOTE GOVERNMENT AGENDA

An amount of 40 Million Dalasis has been approved by the government for the...

GAMBIA: IS THE PROPOSED COALITION 2026 POSSIBLE?

The Gambia, without doubt, is in an awful, increasingly frightening mess because of the...

GAMBIA: SHOULD GAMBIA FERRY SERVICES PARTNER WITH DAMEN SHIPYARD?

According to Dutch news sources, the detection department of the Dutch Tax Administration raided...

More like this

GAMBIA: ABDOULIE JAWO REACTS TO THE OVER D 40 MILLION GOVERNMENT BRIBERY SELECTIVE MEDIA PLATFORMS

Domination through the Military under Jammeh to Domination through the Treasury under Barrow* It is...

GAMBIA: 7 MEDIA HOUSES CONTRACTED ABOUT D40 MILLION TO PROMOTE GOVERNMENT AGENDA

An amount of 40 Million Dalasis has been approved by the government for the...

GAMBIA: IS THE PROPOSED COALITION 2026 POSSIBLE?

The Gambia, without doubt, is in an awful, increasingly frightening mess because of the...